Ethiopian Prime Ministerís hollow interview with

Sofia Tesfamariam, Oct 5, 2003

I read the Ethiopian Prime Ministerís September 30th, 2003 interview with in its entirety and compared it with his threatening letter to Kofi Annan and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). I found his interview to be hollow, insulting and contradictory. Let us for example look at how he responds to the issue of the use of force as a means of resolving disputes. When the reporter from asks him whether or not the provocative football game played inside the TSZ by his army was in violation of the cease-fire agreement, this schizophrenic Tigrayan Prime Minister responded as follows:

"Oh come on! These types of mess-ups happen all the time. What I can tell you is that the ceasefire that we agreed, that we signed with the Eritreans, six months before the United Nations' mission was in place, was scrupulously observed by both parties. And this was six months before the observer troops were in place and at a time when the two armies (of Ethiopia and Eritrea) were separated by a distance of 200 metres. So there is no serious violation of the ceasefire agreement and there won't be; not, at least, from our side."

And now let us look at what he wrote in his threatening letter to UN:

"Ethiopia, while reaffirming its commitment under the Algiers Agreement, stands ready to enter into a formal commitment to reject the use of force as a means of resolving disputes and calls upon Eritrea to do the same."

Unless Melles Zenawi is suffering from amnesia, one of the main tenets of the Algiers Agreement is the Cessation of Hostilities, which of course has a component that clearly rejects the use of force as a means of resolving conflict. Therefore there is no need for a new ìformal commitmentî; it is part and parcel of the final and binding Algiers Agreement that both parties signed in December of 2000. It is on the basis of this agreement that the UN forces were deployed in the TSZ and the independent Border Commission was set up.

Article 1 of the Algiers Agreement clearly states:

1. The parties shall permanently terminate hostilities between themselves. Each party shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the other.

2. The parties shall respect and fully implement the provisions of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities.

Since this is the fact, what other ìformal agreementî does the Tigrayan Prime Minister of Ethiopia need ? Is this not a deceptive and diversionary attempt to render the Cessation of Hostilities null and void, just as he has done with the final and binding decision of the Border Commission?

The Tigrayan Prime Minister of Ethiopia also tries to insinuate that long lasting durable peace cannot be achieved by the demarcation of the border. The truth of the matter is that long lasting peace has been held hostage by the refusal of the expansionist Tigrayan clique to abide by the EEBC decision. Melles does not have the right to lecture on the issue of lasting and durable peace while threatening to unleash war by rejecting the UNSC resolutions. Lasting peace can only come if the minority regime in Addis abides by international law. Eritrea is not occupying any sovereign Ethiopian territories, on the other hand, Ethiopia is still occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.

In his hollow, insulting and contradictory interview, Melles Zenawi also arrogantly tries to re-define the ìobjective and purpose of the Algiers Agreementî. I do not think that the United Nation Security Council, the Secretary General or the international community need Mellesí interpretation of the Algiers Agreement; a comprehensive document carefully crafted by renowned lawyers, legal and political experts from the UN, US, EU and Organization of African Unity (AU). The tenets are spelled out clearly and do not need re-interpretation by a rogue and lawless regime.

As to the issue of who is the victim and culprit of aggression, it is crystal clear that the victim is Eritrea and the culprit is the expansionist Tigrayan clique. This clique in 1996 produced the Greater Tigray map incorporating in it, swatches of sovereign Eritrean territories (this map also takes chunks of land from the Gondar and Wollo provinces -but that is an internal matter for Ethiopians to handle). In line with its expansionist and ambitious map, this same group in 1997, using military force dismantled the existing Eritrean administration at Adi Murug and occupied it.

This was followed by its May 1998 adventure with an agenda to annex Eritrea and overthrow the legitimate government using the Badme issue as the pretext. That is why at the request of Eritrea, an independent and impartial body has been appointed to investigate the origin of the conflict. Article 3 of the Algiers Peace Agreement says that:

1. In order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation will be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998 and on any other incident prior to that date which could have
contributed to a misunderstanding between the parties regarding their common border, including the incidents of July and August 1997.

2. The investigation will be carried out by an independent, impartial body appointed by the Secretary General of the OAU, in consultation with the Secretary General of the United Nations and the two parties.

3. The independent body will endeavor to submit its report to the Secretary General of the OAU in a timely fashion.

When the independent impartial body concludes its investigation I have no doubt, as it was the case with the border issue, that Eritrea will once again be vindicated. As the Eritrean proverb says ìBetri haQi tiQueTin imber aitisiberinî (The stick of truth might be thin but it never breaks).

To the issue of Mellesí scandalous and childish argument that ìthe Commission had violated its agreement and international lawî, the Security Council has responded with a clear and simple statement. In its response to Melles, as reported by Reuters, the UN SC says:

"Members of the Security Council believe that the decision of the Boundary Commission are fully consistent with international practice."

To Melles' arrogant hypocritical suggestion that he is willing to allow demarcation to take place ìin uncontested parts of the boundaryî the UN Security Council also rejected it:

"Members of the Security Council therefore call upon the Government of Ethiopia to provide its full and prompt cooperation to the Boundary commission and it field offices in order that demarcation can proceed in all sectors as directed by the Boundary Commission".

Be it his interview with or his threatening letter to the UN, what Melles has done is expose his arrogance and defiance for the rule of law. In short he is saying, my wayÖor the highway. The attempt by the minority regime in Ethiopia to revisit and re-interpret the Algiers Agreement now at the 11th hour is disingenuous and down right criminal.

The international community, which is covering 65% of the Ethiopian national budget, should not remain silent as innocent Ethiopians are once again being agitated and mobilized by the war mongering regime of Melles Zenawi. Their deployment as cannon fodder and minesweepers for the benefit of the expansionist Tigrayan clique in Addis, must be aborted and condemned. The people of Ethiopia deserve to have their meager resources and wealth utilized to eradicate poverty, combat the ever-increasing HIV-Aid problem, to fight recurring famine; and should not be squandering them to buy weapons, ammunitions and other lethal hardware.

Sophia Tesfamariam